I’ve read this book before. And I almost never re-read books. I may read it every January from now on. Or, maybe it was just meant to synthesize a number of thoughts for me right now and next year the message won’t be as meaningful.
Quotes I’m still thinking about:
- Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.
- Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold.
- The most often repeated commandment in the Bible is “Do not fear.” It’s in there over two hundred times. That means a couple of things, if you think about it. It means we are going to be afraid, and it means we shouldn’t let fear boss us around.
- I thought about the fear of finding my dad, of talking to the girl, of hiking the Inca Trail, and suddenly the resistance had a darker feel, a thieving feel, as if something tangible and powerful were taking our beautiful stories away.
- Once an ambition has been decided, a positive turn is an event that moves the protagonist closer to the ambition, and a negative turn moves the protagonist away from his ambition….A protagonist who understands this idea lives a better story. He doesn’t give up when he encounters a setback, because he knows that every story has both positive and negative turns.
- the stuff I spent money on indicated the stories I was living. By that I mean the stuff I spent money on was, in many ways, the sum of my ambitions. And those ambitions weren’t the stuff of good stories.
- story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling the people around us what we think is important.
- But the people who took the bus didn’t experience the city as we experienced the city. The pain made the city more beautiful. The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.
- And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through till its end.
- a story goes to the next level with two key elements, and both of them have to do with the ambition of the character. First, he said, is the thing a character wants must be very difficult to attain. The more difficult, the better the story. The reason the story is better when the ambition is difficult, Steve said, is because there is more risk, and more risk makes the story question more interesting to an audience. The greatest stories, Steve told me, are the ones in which the character’s very life is at stake. There needs to be a question as to whether the character will make it, whether he will defeat the enemy or the enemy will defeat him. The second element that makes a story epic, he said, was the ambition had to be sacrificial. The protagonist has to be going through pain, risking his very life, for the sake of somebody else. “Those stories are gold,” Steve said. “You can ask people to name their favorite movies, and those two elements will be in almost all of them.”
- the main way we learn story is not through movies or books; it’s through each other. You become like the people you interact with. And if your friends are living boring stories, you probably will too. We teach our children good or bad stories, what is worth living for and what is worth dying for, what is worth pursuing, and the dignity with which a character engages his own narrative.
- The point of a story is never about the ending, remember. It’s about your character getting molded in the hard work of the middle.
- realized how much of our lives are spent trying to avoid conflict. Half the commercials on television are selling us something that will make life easier. Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life.
- when I think back on those six weeks, what I really remember are the few times when we made an extra effort to do something memorable.Read more at…When we look back on our lives, what we will remember are the crazy things we did, the times we worked harder to make a day stand out….they jumped into the water fully clothed, just so they could say goodbye to us in a way that cost them something, that branded a scene into our minds that we could remember for years to come. A good movie has memorable scenes, and so does a good life.
- It’s interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaningful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It’s as though God is saying, Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help.
- We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.